Monday, June 1, 2009

You heard it first on Twitter

Last week was quite a mixed bag for me. It began with a very successful cluster staff meeting where our seven schools from Manaiakalani came together for a celebration on Monday after school and our lead teachers ran workshops (with quite a bit of help from their students), to show the rest of the teachers in the cluster what they had achieved in the last 12 months. They presented in pairs and they were all fabulous, but possibly the show stealer was the presentation where Delwyn's 5 /6 year olds presented their project alongside Karen's 16/17 yr olds. Hard to argue with a concept where 5 year olds and 17 year olds are together presenting 21st century eLearning projects to improve their literacy outcomes!

On Tuesday I had to rapidly change gears and start working on the annual milestone report for our project that was due to be given the powers-that-be in Wellington on Friday. Needless to say I spent the rest of the week ignoring the wonderful things that were happening in classes and focussed on crunching numbers and making sure that I satisfactorily reported on all the outcomes we are working towards. Because I was running a tad late with this I turned off all RSS feeds, Twitter and Facebook and anything else that might be distracting. This included the presentation of the Budget on Thursday night. So it was with some relief on Friday afternoon that I declared it finished and shared the Google Doc with all interested parties, then went online to see what I had missed in the few days off-line. It was a tweet from @sumich (see above) that grabbed my attention. I am so glad that I didn't know about it while I was writing my report. The EHSAS funding which enables Manaiakalani has been cancelled from the end of this year and the funding is being redistributed into other education initiatives instead.

Wow, the end of a dream - or is it? The thing about writing milestones, as a few friends have reminded me, is that while it is a chore and a bore to make sure your writing is in Ministry jargon etc, the opportunity to look at all the data and revisit your goals and evaluate progress is invaluable. What did I find? I decided to share our Google Doc with the public since the government has obviously lost interest, so click here to read the 30 odd pages. Some real highlights came through. We are looking to raise student achievement in literacy while offering a 21st century approach to learning and guess what - in the first year of what was meant to be a three year project- our Maori students made 5.2 times the expected national shift in writi
ng (as tested by asTTle)! We are excited!

So a further tweet during Friday evening from @craigprice who has also lost EHSAS funding for his school from the budget cuts brought a good challenge, "the things of most importance will continue"...It will be a great test of passion and character to not only see the year out strongly while the funding remains, but to also ensure that our beliefs are firmly embedded and can continue after the funding has ended to provide a new way of learning in the 21st century for our students.
And it will be interesting to see how the government uses the money that is being taken from Maniakalani to be put into programmes to raise Maori students' achievement.
All we can hope is that someone in the Ministry of Education will read our milestone report and say, "This looks like an intervention that is working with Maori students - why don't we give this a go?"